Logan Lenz is a serial entrepreneur in the music and web industries. His first company, Endagon Enterprises, is a full-service web agency that also builds its own web properties. As if that was not enough to keep Logan busy, he also owns and operates a humor t-shirt website (Iced Tees) and has helped others to start businesses. Logan told us that he hopes to start investing in start-up companies very soon. Why are we interviewing Logan? Because he is in charge of social media for Ichiban in Orlando and we wanted to pick his brain.
FriendsEat: What was your first reaction when you heard of Twitter?
Logan Lenz: Well, you’re asking somebody that was at SXSW when Twitter publicly launched in March of 2007, I knew it was going to be something big. We quickly started reaching out to businesses and helped potential clients, like Ichiban, harness social media before it was able to become popular.
FE: Did you initially think that Twitter was something your restaurant could put to use?
LL: Of course. We knew that being able to personalize the restaurant and create a local community around our personality would inevitably pay off.
FE: When did your restaurant start using Twitter?
FE: Can you share with us the first Tweet? Was it hard composing the first Tweet?
LL: It was far too long ago to recall the first tweet. Since Twitter was still new at the time, I’m sure it was something lame like “We’re on Twitter!”
FE: How important is Twitter in your restaurant business?
LL: Honestly, it was much more important and valuable to us before it became so mainstream. Early on, we received so much attention for being at the forefront locally, but as other entities joined, the attention of the community became harder to grasp. It’s still very important, however. We make sure we reach out to someone and/or tweet something special every day.
FE: Has Twitter significantly contributed to the restaurant? How?
LL: In 2008, we hosted almost all of the “Tweetups” in Orlando. This was excellent for us. We also became the first restaurant nationally to accept pickup orders via tweets. That was a lot of fun. We still offer it, but it’s not as exciting to customers anymore.
FE: Your restaurant is very active on Twitter, how much time do you devote daily to this task?
LL: Strictly to Twitter, I would say anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour a day.
FE: How is the interaction with other people on Twitter?
LL: It’s wonderful. One of our favorite things is being able to ask a patron what they are eating immediately after they check-in to our restaurant. They get a kick out of engaging with us while they eat our food.
FE: What advice would you give to a restaurant that is just starting to use Twitter?
LL: Don’t overtweet! I see so much of it these days and it both sickens and saddens me. There is so much noise out there – don’t add to it just to participate.
Instead, use search.twitter.com effectively and talk with potential customers about what they like. If you are a pizza place, find locals that just talked about eating pizza and ask them about it. Then, try to lure them in by offering them a special at your restaurant.
FE: Was there any memorable Twitter-related incident that will go down with the history of the restaurant?
LL: Both our memorable “Tweetups” and accepting orders via Twitter. Everyone remembers those.
FE: Have you ever experienced anything negative from Twitter? How did you handle it?
LL: Actually, it’s hard to believe, but we haven’t. We’re fortunate enough to receive @ replies from satisfied customers. We have, however, combated against negative reviews on local review sites. We tend to reach out to the user on the said network and offer them something for free to redeem ourselves the next time.
FE: What is your opinion on the validity of Twitter as an effective tool in marketing the restaurant?
LL: It’s extremely effective if you use it properly.
FE: How do you fit tweeting into a restaurant’s already busy schedule?
LL: I am a member of a hired agency that the owners of Ichiban have so wisely outsourced these tactics to. If you can afford to not do it yourself, don’t. You need to be running your restaurant. Leave tweeting to the more experienced.
FE: Do you see Twitter as a long-term component in your restaurant’s activities?
LL: It already is. I truly believe we’ll also be using it in some way.
FE: What do you find are the most effective tweets?
LL: Two types:
1) Our lunch code words are a lot of fun and effective. This is where we offer up a secret word that you can recite to your waitress to receive a discount that same day.
2) We also like to ask general questions to the public. Something like “What is your favorite sushi roll?” usually gets a lot of responses and conversations started.
FE: Do you see any changes or modifications in the future as to the Tweet content of your restaurant?
LL: We’ll continue to play it by ear and move with the changes of the network. The most important thing is to listen on Twitter, so at the very least, we’ll always be fielding questions and/or comments from customers as they come in.
FE: What strategies should restaurants utilize when Tweeting?
LL: Listen first. Share second. Never miss out on a conversation that relates to your culture / type of food.
FE: How active do you get in order to increase your number of followers on Twitter? Does it even matter?
LL: Numbers don’t matter much. In fact, I think we’ve had over 1,500 for over a year now. All we do to increase the number of followers is follow anyone that mentions us or that we seek out as part of our searching of Twitter.
FE: Have you studied the profile or demographic of your Twitter followers?
LL: No. That’s a waste of time. We just make sure they are in our area. Then again, we have the luxury of being in a very tourist-driven city.
FE: Has there been an unexpected result from using twitter?
LL: Not unexpected. But we have received a great deal of success that gradually increases over time.
FE: Can you share with us the most effective or interesting Tweet of your restaurant?
LL: Our favorite is when we invited our customers to create their own sushi roll. We told them that the best suggestion would make it onto our menus. We received all kinds of crazy concoctions – some of which were delicious. Everyone had a lot of fun coming up with ideas for that.
FE: If your restaurant can get a celebrity to Tweet about it, whom would you choose?
LL: This is such a random question. I don’t think it matters. The only thing that matters is that it was someone that actually enjoyed our food. We can always pay for random celebrity tweets through sponsoredtweets.com.
FE: Do you think Twitter is instrumental to the success of the restaurant business in general?
LL: Yes and no. To some, it increases customer loyalty. For others, it’s a complete waste of time.
FE: Do you use other social networking sites other than Twitter to promote your restaurant?
LL: Of course. We use almost every social network out there in some way shape or form. Twitter and Facebook, however, are the most aggressive of them.
FE: If your restaurant can contribute to improving Twitter to provide certain features, what would those be?
LL: Nothing I suggest here would be innovative enough to overshadow the thoughts of Twitter’s brilliant founders. I wouldn’t want to undermine the things that they are working on over there. They are always thinking of everything. Trust me. Twitter is perfect as it is.
Orlando Ichiban is located at 19 South Orange Avenue in Orlando, FL 32801 (407) 423-2688